German defence minister under fire over tanker attack

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German defence minister under fire over tanker attack

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The German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is coming under increasing pressure to reveal what he knew about an air-strike in Afghanistan in which 142 people died.

Documents obtained by German media outlets appear to show the German defence ministry sought to cover-up the full extent of the controversial bombing in September of last year.

A parliamentary commission reviewing the circumstances of the strike has revealed the existence of a committee known as Group 85. Its role – to create “a postive image” of the attack -which was called-in by a German commander.

Answering to Peter Wichert, a senior official in the defence ministry at the time, the team was set up just five days after the incident.

Wichert told the commission Group 85 existed only to ensure a NATO report on the incident was not biased but opposition politicians are not convinced.

Die Linke MP Jan van Aken said: “It is evident that there has been a cover-up operation, from the first day on. In the ministry and in the defence staff it was clear from the first day that there were civilian deaths. Nevertheless they were saying for days that no civilians had been harmed. There was a concerted and organised cover-up.”

Colonel Georg Klein ordered the US bombing run on two fuel tankers which had been hi-jacked by the Taliban and become stuck in a river bed.

NATO rules of engagement in Afghanistan require an imminent threat before an attack can be launched.